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May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Students Be Aware

Many college students as well as grade school students are entangled in society's webs of confusion as they face mental health issues that could be resolved by awareness, testing and treatment.

Students today are at a higher risk for mental health issues due to an array of factors including the increase of social, emotional and physical demands placed on students.

I, myself, have noticed school counselors’ offices flooded with student concerns. Not, to mention that a couple of weeks ago, online I happen to see “Depression Therapy” ranked in the number eight spot on Yahoo’s Trending Now, and in spot number nine on the same day was “Retirement." And another time a week following, “Depression” appeared again as number eight. 

Experts believe that the economy plays a significant role in the increase of student mental issues due to parents not being able to provide as much financial support and reduced emotional support if parent relationships have been affected by the economy. Nevertheless there are still ways for parents to intervene if they sense something strange about a student.

Parents can write a letter to a child’s school requesting that a student be tested for psychological disorders. The parent may want to ask for a full and complete evaluation to include IQ, speech, learning disabilities, psychological and sensory integration disorder. Parents may also want to seek private evaluations because school evaluations observe what will affect a child’s education, not their life. Many insurance companies cover the cost of accommodations that may be needed for mental health intervention; however, if a parent does not have insurance, he/she can seek less expensive insurance offered through Georgia PeachCare.

College students who experience mental health problems, should immediately seek the student health and psychological services office at their college. Most colleges offer free consultation services.

Parents should also keep a record of a student’s actions to help with diagnosis and professional help.

Mental health issues that go untreated can spiral into psychological wounds that never heal making the condition worse and often times fatal for students.

I recently, spoke with Garry Jones, a retired federal prison Senior Lieutenant and Georgia local who experienced firsthand the detrimental effects of being a child living with untreated mental issues. Now Lt. Jones travels and speaks publically to students about being stricken with mental health problems that started when he was just 6-years-old.  

He warns that “many mistakenly believe that only military veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”  He said that he began suffering from depression, anxiety and stomach ulcers at the age of 6 and that he was not educated about depression back then. He said that even the thought of going to see a shrink was considered taboo where he was from. “It’s not easy exposing yourself. You’re called crazy when you expose yourself.”  He said that even throughout his college life he never spoke about his symptoms. He led a nerve-wreaking life and was later forced into retirement after serving 16 years on his job.

Lt. Jones urges students to be aware, speak-up, wake-up, and take action.

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